It was past seven in the evening when I got the call. “Sir, we’re downstairs”, said the man on the other end of the line. My brain had already begun to imagine long before I went to collect the Hayabusa downstairs. It almost sounded comical – ‘the Hayabusa is here’, I thought to myself while I was rushing to see if all was well. Then, there it was; atop a small flatbed. Before I even got to the bike to take a closer look, there was a small crowd gathering with murmurings of astonishment. “Is this really the new one?” said one of the enthusiastic older gentlemen in the crowd. “The very same.”, I replied with an unwarranted sense of accomplishment.
After the Hayabusa had gracefully gotten down from its resting place, I had time to see just what it means to be in the presence of motorcycling royalty. There is no question about it, this was my Vincent Black Shadow moment. Can you imagine seeing one of those things back in the 1950s? In this respect, the Hayabusa does give off a slightly retro-ish vibe. That iconic design, Japanese emblems, fat rubber and huge exhausts on either side. To say this bike is a sight to behold is an understatement. Yes, that new twin-pod LED headlamps, TFT display and subtle design changes do add an element of modernity. But, it’s all about paying tribute to that original from 1999. The then, fastest production motorcycle in the world.
Since this was a first for me, I got on the saddle with a whole load of caution. I first sat and got an idea of the weight, which at 266 kilograms, is quite a lot. You have to remember though, we weren’t in motion yet. I toggled the switch for the ignition and with a deep and satisfying rumble, it came to life. You can feel that the 1,340cc, in-line four-cylinder engine is a large, beastly piece of machinery. However, once I started moving, that beastly trait melted away into a beautifully smooth experience. This engine never feels strained, it’s smooth all the way. The Hayabusa doesn’t lack the power either, obviously. You’re one mistimed or enthusiastic twist of the throttle away from understanding the sheer power on tap. Thankfully, the three riding modes – Active, Basic and Comfort play a big part in the kind of power delivery one experiences. For example, if you decide to use your own setting (U1, U2 & U3), you can control the amount of traction control. At level 10 (yes, there are 10 settings), things are extremely controlled, somewhat civilised. But, as you get to 5, things are a lot livelier with the Hayabusa jolting you back with authority. If you’re brave enough to go the distance without traction control, I assure you it will be nothing short of a once in a lifetime experience.
I’d go so far as to classify it as an experience like skydiving or bungee jumping. Every single time I saw an open bit of road with absolutely nothing around, I let my heart take control for a while and just let the Hayabusa do what it does best. Accelerate. Don’t get me wrong, it’s an extremely capable handler and will get you excited in the corners but there’s nothing quite like that push. Although, that being said, a better exhaust note would’ve been slightly more welcome. But, I do understand that it can get tiring over longer periods of time. I must say though, the ride over bad roads isn’t as bad as I expected. 125mm isn’t a lot of ground clearance, but the 2021 Hayabusa does an exceptional job at masking that fact. That being said, one has to always be mindful of slightly sharper speed breakers and potholes. Another area of concern is heating, which can get quite acute in heavy traffic conditions. I’d suggest just waiting for those open empty roads to ride out the Hayabusa, at the expense of stating the obvious.
The bike is also lighter than before, thanks to a new exhaust system. The Showa suspension is also slightly tweaked but the biggest change here is the brakes. The front discs are now 10mm larger with new Stylema calipers. In practical use, that extra stopping power is quite instantly visible. The Hayabusa feels extremely confident while braking, at almost any speed. That’s a huge relief given the kind of horsepower on tap. That’s not all though, that legendary 1,340cc, four-cylinder engine has also been slightly updated. It gets lighter pistons, new fuel injectors and connecting rods. Furthermore, Suzuki claims that this is the fastest accelerating Hayabusa yet, even though it’s slightly down on power. It’s got better performance in the mid-range and we for one completely attest to that fact. Honestly, though, none of these numbers or changes matter. The simple fact is that the Hayabusa formula is still alive and well, and we hope it continues to stay afloat. Especially since the electric storm looms large. This sad realization hit me when Jay, Vipul and I were out and about just admiring this historic motorcycle.
Suzuki has gone quite big on electronics, too. Let’s just say the Hayabusa is now quite up to date with features like six-axis IMU, 10 levels of traction control, 10 levels of anti-wheelie control, three levels of engine brake control, three power modes, launch control, cruise control, cornering ABS and hill hold control. Then again, as I said before, it’s not about the numbers or changes. This is still that iconic motorcycle that captivated the imagination of an entire generation. The most endearing thing about the Hayabusa? Apart from the blistering performance; the fact that children will run after you, teenagers will go out of their way to click a photograph and the elderly just stare in astonishment. Ask yourself this simple question, can there ever be anything like the Hayabusa? No. Damn. Way. Just for that, I’d have one, to own a piece of automotive history.
Engine – 1,340cc, liquid-cooled, in-line four
Power – 190 bhp@9,700rpm
Torque – 150 Nm @7,000rpm
Gearbox – 6-speed
Price – Rs 16.4 lakh (ex-showroom)
Weight – 266 kilograms
Fuel tank – 20 litres
For – Insane performance, ride quality, price, iconic design
Against – Size, ground clearance
Photos – Harmanpreet Singh